Chameleon SoftwareThey were located at 4733 N. Mitchner, Indianapolis, IN 46226, USA.
They are or have been distributed by Adventure International.
Maces and Magic
Advertised as a "thinking person's dungeon".
The three Maces and Magics games (Balrog, Stone of Sisyphus, and Morton's Fork) were adventure games where a player chose one of multiple choices to navigate around a puzzle-filled world. The games were available on the TRS-80, Apple II, and Atari 800. All games required disk drives.
The player typically wandered around the world gathering items; to solve puzzles, the player had to "use" found items by naming a one-word action to perform. For example, in a room with a dartboard, the player might choose to use the dart, then would type "THROW" as the action. With a pile of lumber, the player would type "LADDER" to build a ladder. Unfortunately, memory constraints limited the number of synonyms, making the process of solving some of the puzzles annoying. Each game usually provided hints about appropriate words inside some of its messages displayed when starting up each game.
The games are probably best known for having a good sense of humor and great setting. Unlike other many other adventure games of the time, most of the descriptions were kept off on disk, and only the current messages were loaded into memory. This allowed for much more descriptive text than the Scott Adams adventures. Monsters and fighting were present, but usually only as a way to slow a player down (or kill the player off) while scuttling between puzzles.
The games also tended to be less likely to maintain a realistic world, instead sticking together creative, but disparate puzzles into a world. Balrog represented a dungeon crawl with outdoor and indoor adventures. Stone of Sisyphus represented a mostly internal dungeon crawl. Morton's Fork involved searching around a castle.
AS YOU APPROACH THE MANTICORE, THE MONSTER PHOTOS FALL FROM YOUR PACK. HIS EYES BUG OUT AND HE BEGINS TO SALIVATE. 'I MUST HAVE THOSE PHOTOS', HE GRUNTS.
Strangely, even though the multiple choice options would conceivably be frustrating by forcing the player into only following certain actions, the outlandish choices (and results) kept the game fun.
Example from "Morton's Fork": When the player chooses to gaze into a mirror in a bedroom, the following action happens:
...THE MIRROR SHATTERS... & ACCORDING TO TRADITION, YOUR LUCK IS DOWN 7 FOR 7 YEARS. AS YOU HURRIEDLY LEAVE THE ROOM, A DWARF FROM THE GLAZIERS' UNION PUSHES PAST YOU MUTTERING ABOUT UGLY ADVENTURERS.
From "Stone of Sisyphus":
A SEARING BLAST OF HEAT RAISES RIVULETS OF PERSPIRATION ON YOUR HEROIC FOREHEAD AS YOU CONFRONT THE DUNGEON HEATING PLANT. THE FIERY TENTACLES OF THE PLANT REACH FOR YOU....
Balrog was the first game; on both the TRS-80 and Apple, the data files for the game alone filled one disk, and thus the game required a two drive machine to run. The later games had smaller adventures, and couple be run on single player machines.
One of the interesting technical features of the game is
that the game doesn't really have rooms, but "situations"
providing a description and a set of options.
Adventureland was created by Hans Persson and is now maintained by Stefan Meier.
If you find any errors or have information that is missing, please let me know